Lakeland attorney Kristen Carlson entered the Democratic primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District only two days before the deadline, but a poll released by her staff shows her ahead of her two opponents, each of whom has been running for the spot for a year or more.
The poll’s frequency count shows Carlson ahead with 25 to 14 percent for Andrew Learned of Valrico, with 10 percent for Ray Pena of Lakeland. Six-percent said, “someone else” (at least two other candidates dropped out before qualifying). Forty-five percent were undecided.
The poll was conducted June 14 -17 by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, using 401 residents determined to be likely Democratic primary voters in CD 15. The margin of sampling error is near 5 percentage points. Live interviewers conducted the poll.
According to Source Watch, the Washington D.C.-based Greenberg Quinlan is a political research and campaign firm that works closely with the Democratic Party and has experience internationally, as well.
Researchers said that when voters learned of the three candidates after the initial question, Carlson’s numbers rose higher.
Carlson campaign manager, Conor Hurley, said the online biography posted by each candidate was read in its entirety before asking each voter for their preference a second time.
“I looked at the same things they put out and couldn’t figure out where that came from,” Learned said. “The campaign has barely started.”
EMILY’s List is endorsing Carlson. Her finances show a list of hefty donations from many regular donors.
Learned also has the support of several Democratic Party officials, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who has helped him in fundraising. Former candidate Greg Williams of Lakeland left the race to publicly endorse and work for Learned.
The rush by Democrats is the pending retirement of CD 15 Republican incumbent Congressman Dennis Ross of Lakeland and their assessment that the district is winnable.
The Democratic winner of the Aug. 28 primary elections goes on to face the winner of the heavily crowded Republican primary, which has six candidates in the race.